Oscar Pistorius granted bail in Reeva Steenkamp case

 

The BBC's Andrew Harding describes the moment Oscar Pistorius got bail

South African athlete Oscar Pistorius, who faces murder charges over the fatal shooting of his girlfriend, has been granted bail after a four-day hearing.

Magistrate Desmond Nair said the state had not made a case that he would flee, or that he had a violent character.

The Paralympic champion denies murder, saying he shot Reeva Steenkamp thinking she was an intruder at his home.

The next hearing in the case has been set for 4 June. Bail was set at 1m rand (£74,000; $113,000).

He was ordered to hand over his passport, avoid his home in Pretoria and report to a police station between 07:00 and 13:00 every Monday and Friday.

Reeva Steenkamp in an undated photo Reeva Steenkamp's family say they want the truth

Mr Nair took almost two hours to deliver his judgement.

He criticised the testimony of Detective Hilton Botha for not following up important leads and changing his evidence.

But the magistrate also said he had difficulty understanding why Mr Pistorius had opened fire in the way he did.

However, he said Mr Pistorius had "reached out to meet the state's case" and had given a full version of events at an early stage.

"I come to the conclusion that the accused has made a case to be released on bail," he said.

Mr Pistorius's family and supporters in the court gasped and cheered as the magistrate announced his decision.

Even by his own account of events, Oscar Pistorius displayed the most extreme recklessness in firing blindly into a closed door, without even the most basic appreciation of who or what might lie behind it.

Perhaps he's being punished enough by losing the woman he told friends he thought might become his wife.

Having sat just over a metre away from him for the last four days in court, I can tell you he is a broken man. But still it is hard to imagine he will walk away from a trial without some form of sanction, and with his life and career changed forever by four shots fired into a toilet door.

His uncle, Arnold Pistorius, said outside court: "We are relieved by the fact that Oscar got bail today, but at the same time, we are in mourning for Reeva Steenkamp and her family."

Conflicting accounts

The hearing began on Tuesday and both prosecution and defence laid out their cases.

Both sides agree that Mr Pistorius shot through the bathroom door four times, hitting and killing Ms Steenkamp.

But prosecutors allege the shooting happened after the couple had an argument at Mr Pistorius's home in the early hours of 14 February.

Det Botha told the court that witnesses had heard shouting, screaming and gunfire from about 600m (2,000ft) away.

But later he changed his evidence to suggest the witnesses were much closer.

Bail conditions

  • Must hand over 1 million rand: 100,000 rand in cash up front, and proof that the rest is available
  • Must turn in passports and any guns that he owns
  • Cannot leave Pretoria without permission from probation officer, nor can he return to his home
  • Forbidden to take drugs or drink alcohol
  • Must report to police station between 07:00 and 13:00 every Monday and Friday

And on Thursday it emerged that Det Botha faces allegations of attempted murder, and he was removed from the case.

Mr Pistorius says he woke in the middle of the night, and thought there was an intruder in the bathroom.

The prosecutors sought to portray Mr Pistorius as man with a history of violence who was likely to flee the country.

But the defence argued it would be impossible for Mr Pistorius to flee because his prosthetic legs would be noticed wherever he went.

Ms Steenkamp, 29, was a model and law graduate with a burgeoning television career.

Oscar Pistorius, 26, won gold medals at the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens, in Beijing in 2008 and London in 2012.

In London he made history by becoming the first double-amputee to run in the Olympics, making the semi-final of the 400m.

 

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  • Comment number 736.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 735.

    Being a celebrity plus no witnesses plus incompetent police plus expensive defence lawyers means you can kill someone in South Africa and get out on bail. It should not be possible to kill someone and yet make a case to be released on bail. If you shoot at someone without knowing who you are shooting, that is a criminal....end of story.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 734.

    Clearly it's a really strange scenario. Personally I feel that without an understanding of the culture and environment of the country I don't have the background to form any strong views. One thing I am fairly sure of though (based on UK jury service experience) is that there are no doubt a lot of facts that need and will be examined in minute detail, before a sensible view can be taken.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 733.

    There will be "exceptional circumstances" or some other rubbish which will allow him to escape a prison sentence. He wont get away with the murder entirely though, as his career is almost certainly over, and as for sponsors he'll struggle to get even a local kebab shop to take him on.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 732.

    It's been over a decade since I left SA - which was due to the ever increasing crime rate. But, one thing that was common was that gangs would use small children to break in, often through bathroom or bedroom windows, which they could easily fit through. They would then open the front door for the rest of the gang. Not such a laughing matter.

 

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